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Barrels sent from Canada released to owners after more than one year

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Barrels of personal effects that were confiscated by the Port Authority over a year ago and were set to be auctioned last month, have been handed over to their owners.

In March 2017, several persons in Canada complained to the media that barrels which were shipped to St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) in 2016 had not been delivered to their family members here.

On February 23, 2017, a Facebook user, Trey Collins, complained that after giving his barrels to a named individual, his family had not received the goods he sent to them.

Later, on March 17, Shermel Simmons told SEARCHLIGHT via a Facebook message that the same man named by Collins visited her apartment in December 2016 and collected two barrels for which she paid him to send to SVG.

“It’s the 17th March [and] my family in SVG still has not received anything, after weeks of making up stories he no longer answers his phone,” Simmons said in the message.

She said that a number of persons gave their barrels to the man with the intention of having them delivered into the care of Harry’s Customs Agency here in SVG.

When contacted last year, a representative from Harry’s Customs Agency told SEARCHLIGHT that the barrels had not been delivered to their owners, as the agency had not been able to get from the shipper in Canada the required paperwork that was needed for the authorities here to release the barrels.

The representative did not explain why the paperwork was not forthcoming, but said that people had been visiting their office at Upper Bay Street accusing them of dishohesty.

But after a year, and thanks to the efforts of Wayne Crichton of Arabesque Inc and Ken Chitole of KLC Freight, the barrels have been delivered to their owners.

A release, issued by Arabesque and KLC, explained that in late 2016, a criminal fraud was orchestrated by a former employee of a major Toronto shipping company.

According to the release, the former worker used a stolen customer address list and contacted and picked up numerous barrels, along with the shipping fees and arranged for the barrels to be shipped to Harry’s. The employee did not make any pre-payments and later disappeared with the fraudulently obtained funds.

The Arabesque and KLC release stated that when the two companies became aware of the issue, they contacted the Port Authority, who agreed to waive their charges, although the waiver would require Cabinet approval. But, almost a year passed and nothing was done, and the container of barrels were put up for auction.

Arabesque and KLC said they appealed to Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, who stopped the auction and approval was given to waive the customs charges. In December 2017, the barrels were delivered to their owners, at no cost other than the normal duties.

The barrels, although received a year later, were welcomed by the recipients, while Arabesque and KLC made a several thousand-dollar contribution towards the final expenses. Zim Shipping also waived the demurrage charges of US$20,000.(LC)

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